There are 2 consequences of forgiving others that are of great importance:
1) It sets us free–
from: past, anger, hurt, desire for revenge, depression;
for: trusting others, risking ourselves.
There is another important consequence of us showing forgiveness:
2) Through forgiveness, we set the debtor free.
We often hold great power over others who have wronged us – we can hold on to that power over them by withholding forgiveness.
Remember the Balcony & Basement exercise we did a couple of weeks ago;
Don’t be a ghost in someone else’s basement dragging them down…
Forgive them. Let go of their leg…
Don’t miss opportunities to use your power to set those free who need your forgiveness – these are opportunities to enter the Kingdom of God, and sometimes you won’t get another chance to set that person free. Be ready.
[Luke 10:25-28] – “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus is teaching, when a lawyer stands up to “test” him. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Q: What does he want Jesus to tell him? What answer is the lawyer fishing for?
A: That he, the lawyer, has followed the law and done what is necessary to find favor with God
Jesus knows the lawyer already knows the answer.
So Jesus answers by quizzing the expert.
The lawyer answers correctly:
[Deuteronomy 6: 4-9]
[Leviticus 19: 11-18]
Slightly embarrassed and still fishing, the lawyer now seeks to “justify” himself
In other words, he still wants Jesus to acknowledge that he has done his duty, even if, as he suspects, Jesus is going to argue for a pretty liberal interpretation of “neighbor”.
But Jesus’ interpretation of “neighbor” is more radical than the lawyer could ever imagine.
Instead of trying to reason with the lawyer using logic, Jesus appeals straight to his heart by telling a parable.
[Luke 10:29-37] – Parable of the Good Samaritan
It was shocking to Jesus’ listeners to hear a story where a Samaritan was clearly the hero, and the one who did God’s will.
The priest and the Levite, the ones who should have been heros, pass by and do not help the man in need.
Q: What reasons might they have had for passing by?
A: Keeping ritually clean, might have been a trap or set-up for an ambush by the same robbers, etc.]
(The toughest moral dilemmas we will ever face, are not between what we know are right and wrong, but when we have to decide which of two choices is more right than the other…)
Q: What do we know about the man who was mugged?
A: We don’t know anything about who he is. Apparently this is not important (to Jesus or to God…).
It does not matter, to Jesus or God:
who he is,
where he’s from,
what his religion is,
what his language is,
what his history is,
who he’s married to,
what family he’s from,
what side of the tracks he grew up on,
what his political opinions are,
The only thing we know, and the only thing of importance, is that this person needed help.
Q: So, what is Jesus’ answer to the original question “Who is my neighbor?”
A: Our neighbor is whoever needs us to be their neighbor.
That is the only criterion.
But Jesus goes further.
After the parable, he asks the lawyer: “Which of these three was a neighbor to the injured man?”
This is the important question for Jesus (and for God).
Not, “Who is my neighbor?”
But, “Who is being a neighbor?”
What God cares about is not defining who our neighbor is.
What God cares about is whether we are being a good neighbor to those who need us.
The lawyer again answers correctly: “The one who showed him mercy.”
It’s the only answer his heart will allow.
But it’s a grudging answer. Notice that the lawyer cannot even bring himself to say “the Samaritan”, which is a word too vile to even speak.
Jesus now answers the lawyer’s original question.
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Q: What is Jesus’ answer to this original question?
A: Jesus tells the lawyer to go and do likewise – i.e., to show mercy
Q: And who is he to show mercy to?
A: Anyone who needs it…
When we show mercy, we have caught the essence of the Kingdom of God
[Mt 25: 1-13] – The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids
The Kingdom of God is an event – something that happens – as much as it is a spiritual place or state of being.
It is a crisis – the opportunity to enter it often comes when we least expect it
It requires immediate action on our part to enter.
If we are ready and watchful, we step right into it.
If we are careless and focused on the world and on ourselves, we are not ready when the opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God presents itself – by the time we gather our wits and think about it and debate the pros and cons, and finally decide to enter, it is too late – the door is shut – we’ve missed our chance.
It doesn’t mean we’ve missed our one and only chance for all time. Just for that particular instance. Other doors for other situations will present themselves, maybe even later that same day.
Q: Can you think of times where the K of G presented itself to you and demanded an immediate response? How did you respond?
Q: How can we be prepared for times like this?
A: Prayer is one important way.
Imagining scenarios in advance
Practice (mentally and physically)
It is part of God’s expectations of us that we are to be ready to step into the Kingdom of God at a moment’s notice